Self Discipline - Your friend...not your enemy

Without a doubt, one of the most crucial attributes required to excel in personal change and management is self discipline. The total man cannot be developed without it. Self discipline is basically, “the ability to do what is necessary and sensible without needing to be urged by somebody else.” If you want to get anywhere in life, if you want to achieve anything truly significant, then you need to embrace self discipline as one of your closest friends. If you study the lives of great achievers, overcomers and those who accomplished the seemingly impossible, then one thing is obvious – they where disciplined individuals. Harriet S Truman, the 33rd US president observes that, "In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves...self-discipline with all of them came first."

You may have very big and beautiful dreams but without the discipline to change habits and make new steps towards them then they won’t go much further. I urge you for your own sake and future peace of mind to infuse some self discipline into those dead and dying areas of your life. The purpose of self discipline is to birth good habits in your life. Just as the habit of brushing your teeth in the morning is natural to you (so I hope!), so other good habits can be cultivated in your life. And if you’re saying, ‘I’ve tried before and it just doesn’t work.’ I say try again. Never, ever give up. By all means change your strategy, adjust your methods, read and study to gain more knowledge and understanding but never give up. There’s always a way. Whether your dream is to be a doctor, a business man, a journalist or a movie star understand this:

“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” Jim Rohn

There is no easy formula in which to bring about self discipline except to acknowledge that it is an act of your will in which you must command and subject your body to your mind. Apostle Paul puts it like this: “…I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corin 9:27 NIV. Paul gives a picture of his body being forced to obey his will, like a slave is forced to obey his slave master, his body has no choice. The minute you give your body another option, discipline will run away. A few points to make discipline less complicated:

1. Establish your priorities – once you determine what’s really important discipline is easier because there are fewer distractions (see last week’s newsletter on determining priorities).

2. Work on one priority at a time – this makes the process of discipline easier because you have a definite focus and are not being distracted. Organise yourself and plan exactly how you will use your time.

3. Accept responsibility – until you accept that you have a responsibility for yourself, your own projects, and the effect you can have on others you will never feel an urgency or need to discipline yourself.

4. Remind yourself daily of the benefits for cultivating or of the setbacks for not cultivating discipline in specified areas. We often don’t discipline ourselves because we forget why we’re doing it. Write a few sentences or a short list and always have this before you. Stick it on your wall and read it first thing as you get up if you know discipline is your problem.

5. Reward yourself – if you’ve been strong enough to delay gratification and you’ve achieved your target then you deserve a reward. Perhaps now’s a good time buy that shirt or those shoes you’ve been eying!

In life you will always have a choice of two paths. Play now and pay later or pay now and play later. Regardless of your choice one thing is for sure. Life will demand a payment and when we pay later the price is usually greater. Jesus said it this way:

“Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it.”

Be one of the few. Remember discipline is your friend and not your enemy ;-)

God bless and protect


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